TODAY’S READING: Jeremiah 14–17
Missionary messaging carries a cost, for God requires His voices to not only announce His wrath, but to also represent the agonies of His heart. Jeremiah was the weeping prophet to all nations. He was not allowed to marry or to have children. He was required to give an unpopular message (judgment) as an outcast in both the present and future. And he felt the sting deeply. Yes, the words of God are sweet to us, but they cause us to sit alone with incurable wounds (Jer. 15:16–18). If we don’t walk with a limp, if we have pleased all men, if we have paid no price for God’s messaging, if we are not hated for the gospel, then we should question our own obedience, for our hearts are desperately wicked and prone to self-deception (17:9). It’s impossible to be God’s prophetic missionary voice without being resented. It’s impossible to proclaim God’s looming wrath in the spirit He intends if our tears do not flow night and day (14:17).
Missionary reporting and communication does not include enough sorrow. We use statistics for indignation. We show the masses of the unreached and the paucity of missionaries in order to mobilize. We use maps, graphs, and financial reporting to show the inequity of distribution, but we forget to cry. We clinically and logically make a case for those who have never heard, but we forget to cry. We check our emotions at the door and argue from the head, but we forget to cry. We preach motivational sermons about need and God’s plea for laborers, but we forget to cry. We point out the tragedy of the billions, but forget to weep over the one.
I’m ashamed that in my own life the passage of time has made me more clinical than emotional about the state of the lost. I used to weep over the lost much more than I do now. There were days when I first went to the field, so surrounded by lostness, that I couldn’t eat for the stomach-churning agony I felt for my friends and neighbors. There were days when I could hardly speak without voice faltering and tears falling. Now, as Keith Green sang, my eyes tend to be dry, and it’s the numbers, not the agony, that can motivate me. Now my pain results more from the social implications of preaching an unpopular message than it does from the agony that the hearer refuses the message and is one step closer to judgment. Now I tend to cry for myself more than I do for the lost.
Jeremiah calls us to return to the primal agony of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. He calls us to weep for those who reject life, not whimper over our own rejection. He calls us back to the passionate, emotional, agonized, broken heart of God for those who must face His wrath for they have refused His mercy. Jeremiah calls us to a little more missionary weeping and a little less bragging.